Our buffoonish Secretary of State, John Kerry – the man who lost the Middle East by helping Vladimir Putin eject America from it – is shocked, stunned, saddened, frustrated, and generally discombobulated that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad is not behaving himself during their play dates. From Fox News:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Russia to help bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the negotiating table Monday and claimed that the Syrian leader was not making a good faith effort to find a peaceful end to the country’s ongoing civil war.
Speaking in Jakarta, where he is meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, Kerry said that the Damascus regime “refused to open up one moment of discussion” and added that Assad was “trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table.”
“Right now, Bashar al-Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for,” Kerry said during a press conference in Jakarta with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
Oh, my Gawd, you mean brutal dictators who murder thousands to stay in power might lie when they make promises to low-voltage diplomats like John Kerry? After securing all the international political cover he needs from Kerry and Barack Obama’s incompetent bungling, Assad’s not eager to throw away his battlefield advantage, hand power to the (unfortunately al Qaeda-linked) rebels he’s defeating, and retire to a luxury estate in Russia?
“Russia needs to be part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are, in fact, enabling Assad to double down,” the hapless Kerry droned on. The sniggering from Moscow could be heard around the world.
Precisely as critics of Kerry’s clown-show “diplomacy” predicted, Assad has profited from America’s humiliation at the hands of Putin, winning Russian support and international breathing room for the regime by calling Obama’s “red line” bluff. The arrogant American president found himself with few friends in a Congress he’s been working hard to demonize, marginalize, and even illegally disenfranchise. After a few awkward weeks, Kerry broke the political deadlock with a boneheaded offhand comment in one of his coma-inducing speeches (evidently Putin has analysts who can stay awake during these things.) The next thing you know, Assad’s off the hook, Obama’s staggering around mumbling that he doesn’t know anything about any red lines, and the Syrian regime was free to resume mulching the segment of its populace that doesn’t want to serve the Assad dynasty any longer.
The price for the regime’s survival was Assad’s commitment to a chemical weapons disarmament program, which has been going about as well as Kerry’s critics predicted it would. Reuters says only a tiny fraction of the regime’s WMD have been handed over:
Syria has relinquished only 11 percent of its chemical weapons in three shipments and is on track to miss a politically-loaded midyear deadline to completely destroy the toxic stockpile, sources told Reuters on Friday.
Syria should already have handed over the 1,300 tonnes of toxic chemicals declared to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the body overseeing the process with the United Nations under a Russian-American deal.
A third shipment this week contained 54 metric tonnes of hexamine, a raw material for explosives, bringing the total shipped so far to a bit more than 140 tonnes, three sources at the OPCW said.
That includes only about 5 percent of the most toxic priority chemicals, the sources said.
“Let’s be honest, the important materials have not yet been brought, except a little consignment at the beginning. That means we are well behind schedule,” one source said.
“They must speed up if we are to make the deadline. We should have been ready (to start destruction) 10 days ago and we haven’t even started.”
Don’t hold your breath, guys (if you’ll pardon the chemical-warfare pun.) Judging by other comments from Reuters sources, no one on the disarmament team is really expecting the pace of weapons surrender to pick up much. Why should it? The Assad regime not only wants to keep a lot of its WMD, it also profits from the endless bureaucratic haggling over slow-walked inspections. As long as they hand over a few canned farts now and then, no one’s going to do anything except grouse about their lack of enthusiasm for compliance. The regime even scores a political point here and there by blaming the insurgents for making it tough to deliver the chemical weapons to U.N. inspectors.
Assad is feeling confident enough to “add some of the opposition delegates at Geneva to a terrorist list and seize their assets,” according to another whine from Secretary of State Kerry, who described this behavior as “reprehensible.” Any strategy that relied on Bashar Assad to be less than reprehensible was doomed from the start. The Assad regime didn’t even bother formally notifying the rebel delegates they had been designated as “terrorists” and robbed by the government – they found out about it because some memos got leaked to an opposition website. In another Reuters report, a Syrian government official explains that asking hard questions about his government’s terrorist watch list is, itself, an act of terrorism:
One diplomat said the opposition negotiators had discovered a few days ago that most of them were on a “terrorism list” of 1,500 activists and rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
“When (opposition member) Suhair al-Atassi saw her name she realized she had lost her house. A tear dropped from her eye for a moment and she then returned to her combative self,” said the diplomat, who was meeting the opposition negotiators in Geneva.
Asked why Damascus had put members of the opposition Nation Coalition umbrella group on its terrorism list and frozen their bank accounts, Syrian government delegate Bashar al-Jaafari said: “You are trying to terrorize me and you won’t succeed.”
He said the decision was made two months before the Geneva talks began. “This has nothing to do with the Geneva conference. Whoever refuses to fight terrorism is part of terrorism.”
Members of the National Coalition make up the bulk of the opposition delegation to the talks, which opened on January 22.
One delegate, Ahmad Jakal, said: “The regime wants to prove it can get to us personally. In its sick thinking, anyone who opposes it is a traitor and terrorist.”
Well, that’s the thing, Mr. Jakal: those who wish to violently overthrow a legitimate government are, by definition, traitors. The upshot of Obama’s incompetence – a signature pratfall of which was naming the even more disastrous John Kerry as Secretary of State – is that Assad’s government gained legitimacy. Obama blathered about some “red lines,” setting himself up for a war he didn’t have the domestic political strength to launch. When he backed down, while the international community roared with laughter at Kerry’s pratfalls, Assad and his patron Vladimir Putin rose.
Some U.N. relief was allowed into the war-torn Syrian city of Homs over the past few days, but this is hardly a blow to Assad’s prestige. At this point, he profits from international assistance in rebuilding the country he intends to go on ruling. The latest round of peace talks in Geneva ended without even setting a date for the next round of peace talks. Assad has more important business to attend to.